It’s classic advice to surround yourself with interesting, inspiring, uplifting people. Sometimes you can create that environment, and sometimes you just get lucky and find yourself in such a situation like I did last weekend. I had been invited to demonstrate and discuss bowl carving at Fine Woodworking Live in Southbridge, Massachusetts. So, I demonstrated and discussed, which was a wonderful experience thanks to the enthusiasm and great questions from the attendees. However, what I did most at the event was learn.
My education started Friday morning when I assisted Peter Follansbee as he taught fifteen students spoon carving. At Greenwood Fest, Peter and I are usually presenting simultaneously, so this was a golden opportunity to watch him teach. I learned a lot from that, as well as from Peter’s auditorium presentation on the “Green Woodworking Renaissance.” Watch a presentation by Peter and you’ll achieve a deeper understanding, laughing all along the way. Although he humbly downplayed his significant role in this renaissance, Peter shared his broad and valuable perspective on how we’ve reached a point where adzes are a hot commodity and fresh shavings are falling to the feet of more and more woodworkers.
The trend continued with an intensely thought-provoking keynote address by Peter Galbert, entitled “A Chairmaker’s Journey.” Pete’s talk was a fascinating story of a voyage of discovery, richly illustrated. He shared practical wisdom on aesthetics and techniques, as well as insight into the philosophical approach that has made Pete’s journey as a maker so meaningful.
I continued to learn from Pete’s demo on spindle turning. Although I have no woodturning ambitions, it was a good indication of how transferable knowledge and skills are. I gained so much perspective from Pete’s demonstration regarding aesthetics, sharpening, material considerations, even courage. Same goes for my experience with Mary May’s demonstration of carving a ball-and-claw foot. I don’t anticipate a ball-and-claw footed bowl, but that’s beside the point. I was able to gain a new perspective on many things from tool choice to methods of layout to envisioning a design.
I’ve just scratched the surface, but that will have to do. The line-up of presenters was incredible, and I was fortunate to get to talk with many of them. I was inspired by them as well as the attendees and students. Just a rich environment of people sharing knowledge, ideas, and laughs with one another.
I was so involved in taking things in that I never thought to take even a single photo. That’s poor discipline for a guy with a blog. So I’ve included a couple sketches of a spoon that Peter Follansbee gave me at the event. I was compelled to sketch it to learn more about it and because I like it. Already looking forward to hanging out with Peter again, and a whole host of characters at Greenwood Fest in just over a month.
Speaking of golden opportunity, if it never occurs again, I can thankfully say I was one of the fifteen to learn and fully enjoy the day with you and Peter. And though I have viewed your videos time and again, there is nothing like being able to smell the chips removed in person from the walnut bowls you had in progress. The trip to FWWL was worth every minute. I still hope to attend Greenwood Fest at some point in the future in order to gain more hands on and good times. Keep up the great work.
You were part of a fun group of spooncarvers, Scott! Fifteen knives flashing at once and shavings galore — all in a carpeted hotel room!